When you enter the office of the Northwest Research Group on Aging (NWRGA), you will be greeted by program coordinator Cat Olcott.
NWRGA is the education and information transfer core of the University of Washington’s Alzheimer’s Disease Research Center (ADRC) and is part of the UW School of Nursing Department of Psychosocial & Community Health. This long-standing research group focuses on interventions to improve the quality of life both for those with dementia and their caregivers – and Cat helps keep everything within the group running smoothly.
When asked about her typical day, Cat says her job allows for a broad range of administrative activities, from travel arrangements to coordinating talks and presentations for the group’s director, Dr. Linda Teri. She disseminates program information and training materials to the community and other researchers, as well as responding to requests for referrals to outside agencies or other research studies. She also monitors webmail for the ADRC website.
“One of the things I most enjoy about my position is managing production for the Dimensions newsletter,” Cat says. She works on all aspects of this publication, including gathering and writing stories, designing and producing each issue, and coordinating printing and mailing to more than 5,000 readers! She draws from her graphic design background to create dynamic Powerpoint presentations and displays for regional and national conferences and other events. Another high point is the task of coordinating the ADRC’s annual Public Forum.
Prior to joining the NWRGA, Cat spent six years with the Reconnecting Youth Prevention Research Program – also at the School of Nursing – which has developed and implemented internationally recognized curricula to help high-risk junior high and high school youth raise their GPAs and manage their anger, while decreasing drug use, depression and suicide risk.
Cat studied art and French at Eastern Michigan University and after moving to Seattle in 1980 she received her associate’s degree in printing and graphics followed by 20 years as a graphic artist and production manager for several in-house advertising agencies.
In her personal life, Cat is a buddhist layperson affiliated with a local Tibetan Buddhist monastery. She says that this discipline has provided her with the healing, stability and the compassion needed in everyday life, as well as with end-of-life issues for those passing and those left behind.
She enjoys spending time with friends and family, being outside, writing, painting and taking silent retreats. She also nurtures interests in modern sculpture, architecture and dance. A longtime amateur environmentalist, she is proud to live in a city that has one of the most innovative and self-sustaining recycling programs in the nation. You might see her out and about on her 80 mpg shiny red scooter doing her bit to reduce her carbon footprint!